Assume Everything Matters

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I recently walked out to the bird feeders on our property to help my wife fill the plastic tubes with wild bird mix and to hang a new suet block.

I realize this fact probably won’t phase some of you, but my research revealed there are at least 60 million people, just like my wife, who feed birds. Additionally, there are about 100,000 “birders” who leave the comfort of their backyards and local parks to who traipse around the country with binoculars searching for nuthatches and the like.

I must admit that from time to time, as I travel so much, I relish seeing unusual birds and hearing their unique songs. It reminds me of home, which is relaxing and calming.


A Rare Bird

When I was a kid, the world had finally decided to pay closer attention to the environment. I remember people celebrating Earth Day, the debates over car emission standards, rivers catching fire in Ohio, DDT and people talking about a book by Rachel Carson entitled “Silent Spring.”

Magazines and newspapers started running stories about environmental issues, and that is when the Whooping Crane was brought into focus. When I was a child, the bird was barely hanging on, and as I recall, there were about 30.

The Whooping Crane is a magnificent, beautiful bird and that was its downfall. Its beautiful feathers were once used by ladies’ hat designers to decorate hats, or sometimes the birds were hunted for fun. They were never as plentiful as the Passenger pigeon, but there were once about 20,000 of these birds that migrated the midwestern landscape. At the time, no one thought much would be lost if a few were sacrificed for fashion. They were all but gone by 1940. On top of that, the environment for the cranes was becoming developed and polluted, then more polluted.

So, the other day, after hearing happy birds return to the feeder, I did an Internet search on Whooping Cranes. To my surprise, there are now about 600 Whooping Cranes both wild and in captivity. The more I read, the more I was inspired to write a blog and remind people that everything matters.


Did You Know

The scientific name for the Whooping Crane is Grus americana. It is an American treasure, and an American bird, and from a low of 15 in 1940, for the first time in decades the endangered bird is making a modest stand. The stand did not happen by accident. Had the Whooping Crane not had an active, compassionate human intervention, it would have long ago ceased to exist.

The attachment to the Whooping Crane far exceeds conservation pamphlets and Parks Department information. Scientists and zoologists work hard to preserve the Whooping Crane. Park rangers protect the nesting grounds. My research revealed that even children volunteer to help clean and protect the habitats. Whole festivals are devoted to the Whooping Crane where you can buy all sorts of Whooping Crane merchandise and hear lectures.

Male and female of all professions, ages, races, religions, and politics come together to celebrate this magnificent creature. It is quite a sight to see Grus americana return to its nesting grounds. People cheer, people, jump for joy. Why?


Someone Needs A Hug

Environmentalists have often been described as “tree huggers.” It is an unfair characterization of people who are just trying to be fair. For many people, protecting and preserving the species is not just about “birds” but also about protecting and preserving the best in each other and our land. If we “hug anything” in our love of this bird, it is an appeal for us to hug each other just a bit more. Why? Because we’re all in this together. The Whooping Crane was not responsible for its downward spiral, “we were,” and we recognized that. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Most Americans have an innate sense of fairness. We cheer for the underdog, or in this case, the under bird. We like the person or the creature that, against all odds, decides to make a stand. We are far from a perfect society, but what the Whooping Crane has taught us is that when we come together, we can do amazing things. Love gives us the strength to do the impossible. A hug is a powerful thing. It can make you feel wanted, needed, and loved all at the same time. Everything you do has some effect, some impact. Behave as if everything matters.




For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.